Stained Glass Conservation
We are the leaders in caring for the stained glass treasures of North America
Associated Crafts® & Willet Hauser Architectural Glass are the leaders in caring for the stained glass treasures of the United States. We maintain a conservation department staffed by specialists devoted solely to preserving the beauty of stained glass. Churches are particularly rich in windows containing historic stained glass. The surviving windows date from a wide range of periods and styles and feature a multitude of techniques and iconic imagery. The majority of historic stained glass windows are a single layer in their construction while a select grouping of notable studios, at the turn of the century, produced windows that were multiple layers in their construction. Because of their complexity, these treasures develop problems, which are unique only to them.
We have restored windows by Charles J. Connick, Louis Comfort Tiffany, The Povey Brothers, The Ruby Brothers, John LaFarge, Henry Wynd Young, Francis Xavier Zettler, Franz Mayer, and Innsbruck Studios are among the thousands of windows restored by our studios. Perhaps the most complex restorations are those of the multi-plated windows by Tiffany and La Farge.
Our Conservation approach for restoration is based philosophically on accepted and established preservation theory. The windows being considered for conservation will be treated as an artistic element that is also an integral and functional part of the building fabric, not as museum artifacts.
The process begins with a structural inspection of the stained glass windows. One of our studio representatives meets with a church representative to explain the procedure and to gain access to all the windows. He or she then makes a careful visual inspection of each window, evaluating the individual components of the structural support system.
In checking the window, the studio representative assesses if the window is as intended by the designing artist. A major aesthetic component for many stained-glass windows is the painting that has been done on the interior surface of the glass to develop the design and control the intensity of light. Unfortunately, the firing is not always exact and some painted areas sometimes are not permanently adhered to the glass surface. In the inspection, the studio representative looks carefully at the painted glass areas to check for fading and/or delamination of the painted surface.
Another change in appearance can occur when the glass has been replaced in the past because of breakage. The replacement glass isn’t always the best match for the original glass and is quite apparent. If the original damaged glass was a painted piece, the replacement glass may not be of the same quality as the original, creating an obvious mismatched appearance. In the inspection, the studio representative makes note of obvious replacement glass, both painted and unpainted. The windows are documented photographically to aid the studio representative and our conservation team in developing a comprehensive Condition Report. The Condition Report and a detailed proposal for the care of the windows are then submitted to the church and discussed with the appropriate church body. Our trained conservation specialists treat the windows that fall into this category exclusively as the priceless treasure that they are through critical analysis, careful handling, increased safety measure and precise attention to detail both in the art, its documentation and care.
By utilizing Conservation techniques, we will retain the artistic component of the window(s), maintain the original glass whenever possible, with an emphasis on reversible techniques. Some of the structural components of the restored window or panel will be new. This will include new lead of the proper alloy, new cement, and new copper ties for the braces. With the new lead and the improved structural procedures and techniques, the windows should not require any major maintenance or have any repair problems for many years to come.
It is important to note your treasured art will be fully protected in transit and in our studio. Our vehicles and studio facility is equipped with state-of-the-art security systems, tracking and in-studio live-streaming with video recording capacity. We are in compliance with all OSHA requirements for health, safety, and handling of hazardous materials.